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This book is intended as a supplement to the original work listed below.
The Law of the Manor was published in 1998. Why do we need to add to it so soon? The reason is that the law of the manor, like every branch of law, is changing at an ever increasing rate. As society changes, as pressure increases on scarce assets, as people have the means and wish to carrytheir disputes to the courts or to complain to their MPs of some defect in the law, so there is change. The changes affecting our subject have been particularly dramatic.
The manor was at its height as an institution in the years around 1200. Soon after 1600 it had declined into a relic, although still functioning, and the law could then be stated in its classic form by Sir Edward Coke in his books. In 1925 the old laws were largely repealed. Yet the manor continues to exist in our own time and it develops as everything does.
The frequent changes in our laws reflect the fast changes in society. The countryside is changing, as it always changes, but at a quicker rate than in the past. The manor was originally so closely integrated with rural society that even now it cannot be kept apart from the changes. This is not completely new. I wrote The Law of the Manor in part to record the law as I had learnt it before it changed out of recognition. I referred to statutes and royal laws over many centuries and decided cases spanning periods from 1220 onwards.
There are 119 decisions of the courts listed in my Table of Cases. I was, of course concentrating on the law as it was when the book was written, but for a subject of such antiquity it is worth noting that of those 119 cases, 10 dated from the 1980s and 12 from the (then incomplete) 1990s.
Since the book was written we have had (to mention only the most important cases) in the House of Lords, R. v.Oxfordshire County Council, ex parte Sunningwell Parish Council, Bettison v. Langton, and Aston Cantlow Parish Council v. Walibank. From Parliament we have had the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the House of Lords Act 1999, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Land Registration Act 2002 and the repeal of much obsolete inclosure legislation.
The cases on the interpretation of the Commons Registration Act 1965 have largely concerned town and village greens and incidentally access to and preservation of them as unbuilt open spaces, and I look at them in ch.1. The most significant developments have related to access to and over land. The Act of 2000 granted public rights over common land and open country and I describe that in ch.2. There have been a series of cases in which private landowners have sought to control or charge for private access to houses or workplaces over commons, greens and roadside verges discussed in ch.3.
The Land Registration Act 2002 will have material consequences for the way the rights of lords over other land are recorded and protected and I look at that in ch.4. There are then a number of miscellaneous changes, affecting Church Schools and repairs to churches, membership of the House of Lords, reform of and recent applications of Inclosure Acts, cases on boundaries, the application of human rights, sporting and the foreshore and other topics in ch.5.
Finally I look at the future and forthcoming changes, since the law will no more stand still in the next few years than it has since The Law of the Manor was published. In particular I look at proposals for the law of Common Land. I also consider the way all the changes operate and the implications for the public or private quality of rights associated with the manor, in attitudes to custom and the effects of environmental law and human rights.
In the bibliography I consider how academic scholars have also been active and although it is no part of my purpose to summarise recent research I can point out a few recent books. This is intended to supplement and bring up to date The Law of the Manor. The nature of the changes has meant that the most direct way of discussing them has been, not to add notes to each page, but to set them out in a way that can be read and understood on its own. I have referred where possible to the relevant pages of the original text.
The Law of the Manor had inevitably to be a broad summary of a range of related legal topics and in the book I concentrated on explaining the reasons for the legal rules rather than set them out in detail. In this supplement I have felt it right to go deeper into the particular provisions of recent changes in the law but this remains a summary. There are several full and detailed accounts of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Land Registration Act 2002 and many of the other topics discussed here. Some of those accounts are prepared for lawyers, some for the public and some for special interest groups such as members of amenity societies. This is not intended to replace them. My aim is to give a general account of recent developments as they affect the lord of the manor, and those concerned with manorial rights and property.
I am grateful to reviewers and others who commented on the book when it was published and I hope this further account will be some help in following the major changes of the last few years.